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Which health change should you make first? Part 1 of 6

If you've been following the blog so far this year you should now be able to identify some changes you want to make. So far you’ve tested which health areas should be the most concerning, experimented with 1 or 2 small changes to build confidence and mentally prepared yourself to take responsibility for the change you want to accomplish.

In the following series of 6 articles we’ll decide what your driver for change is. We’ll consider the size of task to undertake by weighing up the pros and cons of big and small changes. We’ll look at a number of tools to help you decide on your priorities and consider the wider implications of this change. We’ll make sure you’re well prepared and can seek out trusted sources of guidance to support you through the first steps. Finally we’ll show you how to organise this information into a gameplan for success.

By the end of this series you should feel excited at the thought of your first meaningful health change and confident that you have never before been better prepared to succeed.

Today we'll consider drivers for change, those things that best motivate you.

Perhaps you have an idea already about what goal you’d like to achieve first. Don’t worry if you don’t, there are lots of ways to choose where to begin. Before you decide, bear in mind that there are two main types of goal. One is where you move towards a state of being that you desire and one where you move away from something you dislike or that causes you pain. For example, if you drink heavily and your doctor tells you that you are at risk of fatty liver disease, you have a strong ‘away’ goal to reduce your alcohol intake before your liver begins to fail. If you want to stop drinking so you can lose a dress size before your summer holiday you have a ‘towards’ goal. The thing you want to change is the same but the motivators, or drivers, are very different.

‘Away’ goals are easier to achieve because the incentive is greater, in this case, the threat of a slow and painful death with much medical intervention. It may be useful to consider the drive behind the behaviour you want to quit, especially if you can use this to reinforce the reason for the change. Consider the alcohol withdrawal for weight loss example; if the person considers how much they hate hangovers or making a fool of themselves when drunk they can draw on those small ‘away’ incentives to make the change easier. They look to avoid these situations and this reinforces the drive to change.

Understanding whether your goal is ‘away’ or ‘towards’ will help you better marshal the tools you need to achieve it and give you an opportunity to think about the wider consequences of your change.

Consider the reason behind your change. Is it away from pain or towards an ideal visualisation of yourself?

Over the next 2 weeks we'll look at different ways to decide on your first change. This will give you confidence that you're making a useful and valid decision to change a habit or lifestyle which may be negatively impacting your life.

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